Cross-Curricular Learning

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When teachers incorporate cross-curricular (interdisciplinary) lesson plans into their repertoires, it increases students’ interest and understanding.

Each year I poll my students, discovering what worked best for them as individuals, which lessons were the most memorable (from a learning standpoint), and what they predict will impact them with future learning. Invariably the answers fall into two categories: Lessons that went across disciplines and ones that have practical applications.

As an example, in a recent professional development session at the Kenan Fellows conference at NCCAT in Cullowhee, the presenter extraordinaire, Erin Lawrence, shared with us a lesson plan which combined design, engineering, and marketing. Erin teaches science in Wake County, NC, and I know her students must love having her as their teacher. She is enthusiastic, thorough, and knowledgable.

Students were required to invent a marshmallow roasting stick that had specific features: it had to have a conductor, insulator, protector (for the pokey end), and the ability to roast the marshmallow without getting burned by being too close to the fire. The items arranged on the table had prices attached to them, which was figured into the cost of each item.

After we brainstormed, designed, and built the roaster, we then created an ad for our target audience – our fellow Fellows (see what I did there!? lol) Using an online polling website, all attendees voted on the class’s handiwork.

The best part? We are using them on Thursday night to make s’mores!

marshmallow nccat kenan

Above is our ad. Our stick had a red handle with black spots, while the protectors on the end of the wire resembled a ladybug’s antenna. While the students would take a class period, we had an abbreviated time, so we worked furiously. I was fortunate enough to work with Andromeda and Brooke, who were both extremely clever and quick workers. Even if we don’t win, we’ll have S’MORES! as a payoff Thursday evening.

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